It was Mayor Skip Harvey’s understanding, as well as the understanding of at least one of the proprietors of Mammoth’s marijuana dispensaries, that at some point in the future, the Town would levy a special tax on the sale of pot.
This, however, is apparently not the understanding of Councilmember John Eastman.
Mammoth’s Town Council debated the efficacy of instituting an additional local sales tax on marijuana at its regular meeting Wednesday.
Mayor Skip Harvey, coming off the MLPD staffing discussion, jokingly suggested to Eastman that collecting a tax from the dispensaries would be a great way to fund the School Resource Officer position.
“I’m not even going to go there,” a frustrated Eastman declared.
Where Council did go was a brief discussion of how and when to discuss the taxation.
“I don’t want to spend money on a special election, but we need to be ready for 2012,” explained Harvey, who was responsible for bringing the discussion to the table. A tax on the dispensaries would have to go to the voters for approval. According to Mayor Pro Tem Jo Bacon the idea was not included in the June 2010 election because “we had our hands full trying to get the ordinance passed.” Bacon was referring to Measure M, which was the zoning code amendment that allowed dispensaries to be set up in town.
“It fell off the radar then,” Harvey added.
Research Harvey had done showed that the tax could realistically be set anywhere from 2.5 percent to 10 percent. Go much higher than that and prices at the dispensaries would become too high and buyers would go back to the black market for product.
At 5 percent Harvey estimated the Town could collect $25,000 per dispensary, per year.
Eastman was against the idea of taxing a business more just because the Town could.
“I take offense to government taxing my business and I look at the dispensaries as another type of small business,” Eastman explained.
Bacon and Wood were not against the tax but felt now was too early to discuss it.
“Let’s wait until the fall when the businesses have been operational for awhile,” Bacon suggested.
“This is low on my radar,” Wood said. “I need to know the work plan for next year first.”